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Mirandolina at the Royal Exchange

Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 18th century farce Mirandolina is an exhilarating cacophony of colour, music and emotion…

Published on July 18th 2006.

Mirandolina at the Royal Exchange
Directed by Jonathan Munby

Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 18th century farce Mirandolina is an exhilarating cacophony of colour, music and emotion, performed with unfaltering energy and passion throughout.

Goldini’s Italian farce has been fast forwarded two hundred years for this luminous interpretation, and here takes place in a run down inn in 1930’s Italy, another time of political and social upheaval where money meant everything and patriarchal values oppressed free thinking women.

Raquel Cassidy plays the beautiful Mirandolina, a feisty and independent young woman who inherits an inn off her father and subsequently finds herself surrounded by passionate suitors, including a buffoon like aristocrat, a shrewd ‘new money’ Count, and a lowly servant.

When Mirandolina comes across the declared misogynist Ripafratta (Matthew Kelly), she embraces the challenge to persuade the woman loather to fall in love with her – with interesting consequences.

The backdrop of Mussolini’s violent and oppressive Italy is reflected in the battle of the sexes that takes place within this small backwater inn, where suppressed emotions, disguised identities and violent outbursts fizz up into fast paced farce.

The action is played out against Mike Britton’s crumbling Provencal set, complete with holes in the floorboards, a dripping ceiling and a distressed wrought iron spiral staircase. Food, wine and opulence add to the feeling that everything about this play is designed as a real feast for the senses.

The layout of the Royal Exchange lends itself perfectly to this play, in which the audience are brought into the action through a series of humourous asides and even become victims themselves of the predatory Mirandolina’s seduction techniques. It seems that no man is safe, so if you are the retiring type avoid the front row at all costs.

Raquel Cassidy brings an irresistible allure and likeability to the character of Mirandolina, and despite a somewhat flat delivery of many lines still succeeds with a captivating performance.

Matthew Kelly as the bumbling, bear-like Ripafratta is unrecognisable and gives a compelling portrayal of the sensitive yet beastly fool in love.

I really should give every player a mention – from Nicholas Boulton as the hilarious, farcical Marquess to Ian Barthlemew’s crass, gangster like Count, who could vary easily have just stepped off the set of Eastenders. Really, every performance in the eight strong cast was superb, with not a single weak link. Special mention must also go to Lisa-Lee Leslie, whose evocative accordion playing really added to the play’s sexy, bohemian café flavour.

From start to finish Mirandolina oozes with passion and humour, heightened by songs, dances and colour. This play is only showing at the Royal Exchange until August 5th and makes a perfect summer treat – hot, exciting and hilarious.

Jayne Robinson
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Royal Exchange until August 5th

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